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Cadillac CTS review

ItĒs the latest CTS, which is a lot like the CTS we already know and like. For 2012, the 3.6-liter version of CadillacĒs only car gets a new cylinder-head design with integrated exhaust manifolds, a composite intake manifold, lighter connecting rods, and upgrades to the fuel system. Power is up by 14 hp to 318, and the torque peak is now 275 lb-ft, an increase of just 2 but available 300 rpm sooner on the tachometer. Incidentally, the 2012 CamaroĒs V-6 gets the same upgrades this year and makes 323 hp. claims the changes reduce engine weight by 21 pounds.

After the fanfare of a new model launch, most cars fade into relative obscurity from a press standpoint. Journalists donĒt get a lot of exposure to a car late in the product cycle. Our time in the revised CTS served as a reminder that can build a car that looks and drives as well as any European-designed sports sedan. Particularly impressive is the ride, which handles MichiganĒs pothole-ravaged streets in comfort but retains a tautness that encourages fast cornering. The sales pitch back when the second-generation CTS was new was that it offered space similar to that of the BMW 5-series and Mercedes-Benz E-class for a price similar to that of the 3-series and C-class. The bigger cars, as well as AudiĒs stunning new A6, are a class above the in refinement and materials quality. But the concept behind the CTS is a thoroughly American idea of getting a little more than you pay for, which we like.

So, about that weight saving. Our test car weighed in 101 pounds heavier than a comparable 2008 CTS equipped with an automatic transmission. Some of those extra pounds can be attributed to larger wheels (the new car rides on 19-inchers; the 2008 rolled on 18s) and differences in optional equipment, but the weight saving from the engine alone is negligible.

Of all these cars, the CTS may be the most distinctive, and most attractive. It's flashy, yes, but the Cadillac Art & Science theme doesn't suffer from the me-too syndrome that endangers some of the cars in this class. There's no way you'd mistake its edgy, bladelike fenders and sparing use of chrome for anything but American, and those are just the big themes. Some details are mesmerizing, like the upswept headlamps on all versions, or the V-taper on the rear ends of the coupe and wagon. Of all the versions the Wagon is the most arresting--and that's an accomplishment. Every CTS shares an interior that's a great leap ahead for GM, if still a little cluttered and glitzy. Sharply delineated, with some functions and controls scattered around, subservient to the look, the CTS' cabin pretty much flips off the German less-is-more ethos, and goes for pure dazzle. It gets the contours right, but some of the plastic pieces still stand out a little too easily from the otherwise high level of trim quality. To be fair, that's more common across the luxury board these days.

Performance is very good, but like other cars in this segment, the CTS could use some more elbow room. The cabin is comfortable but snug, though the Wagon's longer rear door openings make it more useful, as does the extra 25 cubic feet of passenger space. The wagon also lets owners flip down the rear seats for a total of 53.4 cubic feet of room. The coupe doesn't lose much legroom compared to the sedan, but it's noticeably cramped, especially in rear-seat headroom. On all versions, sport sedans are inferior to the base ones, and have an odd concave padding down the middle of their cushions. There's a base "leatherette" upholstery, but most cars you'll see on lots will be outfitted with a fine grade of leather.

All CTSs are loaded--it's really just a matter of how loaded, and which tech and audio upgrades are specified. The sedan comes with power doors, locks, and mirrors; cruise control; automatic dual-zone climate control; a power driver seat; a tilt and telescoping steering wheel; an AM/FM/CD/XM audio system with auxiliary jack; an air filtration system; and automatic headlamps. The Sport Wagon adds a power tailgate to that list. The major options include a panoramic sunroof; a particularly advanced, easy-to-use entertainment system with hard-drive music storage and memory to hold radio broad-casts; a navigation system with real-time traffic; ventilated seats; a pet cover for the wagon's cargo hold; and 18- or 19-inch wheels and tires, to go with different suspension packages and all-weather or summer tires. For the 2012 model year, Bluetooth is standard across the board.

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